A long time ago, some girl friends and I used to have a terribly sexist inside joke about what we called "male answer syndrome" I have since noticed that this syndrome seems to strike almost as many women as men so I now call it Gender-unspecified Answer Syndrome (GAS). Basically, it occurs when someone simply does not have the ability to say the words "I dont know" and instead gives a plausible sounding answer that isnt actually backed up by any knowledge on their part. Basically, they BS their way through an answer. I often think of it as verbal farting. Some people are really good at this. I see it all the time in my department at work. It makes me laugh though because often, I am an expert on the subject and I know that the words coming out of these people's mouths are just plain made up and wrong. But you know, if you put enough technical jargon into a sentence, non-technical people just don’t understand it.
And then there is the whole “Emperor’s New Clothes” phenomenon where people just aren’t able to admit that they don’t know what the sufferer of GAS is talking about. So, in the technical world, I often find myself at a lot of meetings where one person who doesn’t know what he/she is talking about is BSing their way through a meeting to a group of other people who wont admit that they don’t understand the BS. They usually go like this:
Person with GAS: I think the problem is that the filange packets are stuck in the flux capacitor of the server.
Management type: I see. Well what can we do to fix this filange problem?
Person with GAS: I think we will need to do a high colonic on the flux capacitor and write a script to sniff out the filange.
Management type: When can you do this? I am VERY concerned about this filange problem.
Person with GAS: I’ll get on it right now!
Management type: Good, I’ll check on you right after I attend my “Dihydrogen Monoxide and How it Effects Our Business” conference.
I bring all of this up because lately I have noticed more and more people doing this at work. I notice this especially in the areas where I actually am an expert and one of only two experts on certain things in the whole department. I read people’s notes and find myself cracking up because I know they are just making stuff up.